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Retired Black White House Butler Talks About His Experience, Obama

Eugene Allen, 89, a retired White House butler, tries on his old tuxedo for a photo. Allen, who served eight presidents during a period when America ‘s racial history was being rewritten, is marveling at the election of Barack Obama.

The butler sees a new White House
Now retired, he started when blacks were in the kitchen.

By Wil Haygood LA Times November 7, 2008

Reporting from Washington — For more than three decades, Eugene Allen worked in the White House, a black man unknown to the headlines. During some of those years, harsh segregation laws lay upon the land.

He trekked home every night to his wife, Helene, who kept him out of her kitchen.

At the White House, he worked closer to the dirty dishes than to the Oval Office. Helene didn’t care; she just beamed with pride.

President Truman called him Gene. President Ford liked to talk golf with him. He saw eight presidential administrations come and go, often working six days a week.

“I never missed a day of work,” Allen said.

He was there while racial history was made: Brown vs. Board of Education, the Little Rock school crisis, the 1963 March on Washington , the cities burning, the civil rights bills, the assassinations.

When he started at the White House in 1952, he couldn’t even use the public restrooms when he ventured back to his native Virginia . “We had never had anything,” Allen, 89, recalled of black America at the time. “I was always hoping things would get better.”

In its long history, the White House — note the name — has had a complex and vexing relationship with black Americans.

“The history is not so uneven at the lower level, in the kitchen,” said Ted Sorensen, who served as counselor to President Kennedy. “In the kitchen, the folks have always been black. Even the folks at the door — black.”

Before Gene Allen landed his White House job, he worked as a waiter at a resort in Hot Springs , Va. , and then at a country club in Washington .

He and wife Helene, 86, were sitting in the living room of their Washington home. Her voice was musical, in a Lena Horne kind of way. She called him “Honey.” They met at a birthday party in 1942. He was too shy to ask for her number, so she tracked his down. They married a year later.

In 1952, a lady told him of a job opening in the White House. “I wasn’t even looking for a job,” he said. “I was happy where I was working, but she told me to go on over there and meet with a guy by the name of Alonzo Fields.” Continue reading

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Yes WE Did: Barack Obama wins the Presidency of the United States of America

I’m going to write something deep and heartfelt later today when I really have a chance to let Barack Obama’s win sink in. I’m going to get all profound (hopefully) and really do this historic event in America’s history justice. But right now…right now I’m just going to go on straight emotion and the since of pride I feel as an African American. I think this photo says it for me.
Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

The First Black President of the United States…and he is really a force for Unity. Oh you should have seen the streets of NW DC and the crowds at the White House last night. So diverse…old, young, black, white, asian, hispanic…everyone was out and happy about Barack’s win. There was a new energy that has nothing to do with politics. It was about possiblities and a belief that “We the People” still exists. We can still be heard as one voice and affect change, real change.

“I am the hope and the dream of the slave”. Yes I am. Yes We Can. Yes WE Did. Congratulations America. The world applauds us.

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Will there be drama?: Obama on The O’Reilly Factor tonight

Weigh in: Will some drama go down tonight on The O’Reilly Factor when Bill welcomes Barack Obama to the show, or will it be a civil exchange? Will the truce stand or will Bill try to treat Obama like Ludacris?

What do you think?

Whatever happens, I think it may be enough to take the spotlight away from Sarah Palin for a day…or two.

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Nas on Racism, Obama, and of course “Nas World”

Nas is readying his latest LP and the legendary emcee is also being his regular outspoken self. Recently, he spoke out on racism and how it affects him and how it may affect Democratic nominee Barack Obama.

“I get reminders,” Nas recently said in an interview with MTV. “I see a lot of people get reminders all the time. But the president of the United States? I don’t know. He can expect that everything that can happen, will happen. But he’s a lot more powerful than Nasir Jones in a lot of ways. I think he’ll be all right. People like me, we’re gonna deal with [racism]. There’s a lot of ignorance in the world. Look at the human family. We’ve been able to design iPods and so-called go the Moon. Yet, we can’t get over racial difference and colors of skin. That’s gotta go.”

“If Barack becomes the president, it doesn’t matter who looks at him as a n—er at that point…Everybody gotta go through scrutiny, criticism by crazy people. They will criticize your child. They talked about the Clintons‘ daughter, and they talked about this one and that one. You gotta be able to take the high road on everybody. I think Obama is perfect for taking the high road. He’s prepared. He’s a black man. Him taking the high road is him taking the country on a high road. I think it’s gonna benefit everybody in America with that guy in office. Let’s hope it happens. Let’s hope it’s no funny business with that guy in office. Let’s hope for the best,” Nas continued.

For years, he was not interested in the political game but now Nas is giving Obama credit for bringing that interest back.

“It got me interested…I think in about 10 more years from today, you’re gonna have more politicians who grew up listening to Illmatic that are … MCs! That are rappers. You’re gonna start seeing more rappers evolve into politicians. If we have a change this year and it’s a positive thing, we trusting the system now. We believe in it more. We see something positive coming out of it that makes us want to get involved more. Five or 10 years from now, you might see somebody like me trust it more. Who knows? I won’t say for sure.”
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Is it a Different Country?

PAUL KRUGMAN of the NY Times says it just might be in his article today, “It’s a Different Country“.  Discussing Obama’s electability he talks about the current state of race and electoral politics. He says that  “decades of pressure on public figures and the media have helped drive both overt and strongly implied racism out of our national discourse”.

Fervent supporters of Barack Obama like to say that putting him in the White House would transform America. With all due respect to the candidate, that gets it backward. Mr. Obama is an impressive speaker who has run a brilliant campaign — but if he wins in November, it will be because our country has already been transformed.

Mr. Obama’s nomination wouldn’t have been possible 20 years ago. It’s possible today only because racial division, which has driven U.S. politics rightward for more than four decades, has lost much of its sting.

And the de-racialization of U.S. politics has implications that go far beyond the possibility that we’re about to elect an African-American president. Without racial division, the conservative message — which has long dominated the political scene — loses most of its effectiveness.

Take, for example, that old standby of conservatives: denouncing Big Government. Last week John McCain’s economic spokesman claimed that Barack Obama is President Bush’s true fiscal heir, because he’s “dedicated to the recent Bush tradition of spending money on everything.”

Now, the truth is that the Bush administration’s big-spending impulses have been largely limited to defense contractors. But more to the point, the McCain campaign is deluding itself if it thinks this issue will resonate with the public.

For Americans have never disliked Big Government in general. In fact, they love Social Security and Medicare, and strongly approve of Medicaid — which means that the three big programs that dominate domestic spending have overwhelming public support.

If Ronald Reagan and other politicians succeeded, for a time, in convincing voters that government spending was bad, it was by suggesting that bureaucrats were taking away workers’ hard-earned money and giving it to you-know-who: the “strapping young buck” using food stamps to buy T-bone steaks, the welfare queen driving her Cadillac. Take away the racial element, and Americans like government spending just fine.

But why has racial division become so much less important in American politics?

Part of the credit surely goes to Bill Clinton, who ended welfare as we knew it. I’m not saying that the end of Aid to Families With Dependent Children was an unalloyed good thing; it created a great deal of hardship. But the “bums on welfare” played a role in political discourse vastly disproportionate to the actual expense of A.F.D.C., and welfare reform took that issue off the table.

Another large factor has been the decline in urban violence…Click here for the rest of the article.

What do you think about this subject???

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Clinton camp pushes photo of Obama in African dress, turban

Clinton’s camp knows that the average American doesn’t know if what Obama is wearing in this photo is traditional Pakistani garb or traditional African dress! They see turban, turban, turban! We know that for a lot of Americans turban = terrorist. This is not brain surgery, it’s racism and stereotyping! Now, I know there is nothing wrong with a turban, but the reasons behind this photo being released are obvious. This is a very juvenile move. Desperate!!!

Here is the story from SHM – RACIST or just mischievous politics? That is the question being asked after the Barack Obama campaign accused the Hillary Clinton camp of circulating via the internet a photo of Senator Obama in African dress.

With just a week to go until the make-or-break primaries in Texas and Ohio, the reaction from the Obama camp was swift.

“On the very day that Senator Clinton is giving a speech about restoring respect for America in the world, her campaign has engaged in the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we’ve seen from either party in this election,” the campaign manager, David Plouffe, said.

The photo, taken in 2006, shows Obama dressed in traditional garb during his visit to Wajir, a rural area in north-eastern Kenya. The website The Drudge Report, which broke the story, said the image came from the Clinton campaign.

“Everybody knows that whether it’s me or Senator Clinton, or Bill Clinton, that when you travel to other countries they ask you to try on traditional garb that you have been given as a gift,” Senator Obama later told a San Antonio, Texas, radio station.

“The notion that they would try to use this to imply in some way that I’m foreign, I think is, you know, unfortunate,” he told another station in Dallas.

The Clinton campaign issued a response but did not deny staff had circulated the photo.

“Enough,” the campaign manager, Maggie Williams, said of the Obama outrage. “If Barack Obama’s campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely.”

The Clinton campaign was forced to let a volunteer go in December after he suggested in an email that Barack Obama was a Muslim. Who comes out worse out of this latest verbal jousting remains to be seen but the Obama camp’s tactics of pushing back against any slur seem to have been effective in the past. Given the sensitivities in the race, it just might be that Senator Clinton is the one who is most damaged. It underscores the difficulty she faces in tackling Senator Obama.

Campaigning in Ohio on Monday, Senator Obama packed out two campus arenas, each with capacity for 13,000. The crowds have become increasingly large and raucous as each day goes by. There were further signs that Senator Clinton is in real trouble in both Texas and Ohio and Senator Obama has raced ahead of her in national polls.

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